Schott Ships First Mirror Blanks To Chile
The European Southern Observatory will have an extra special holiday package. The first 18 mirror blanks for the Extremely Large Telescope's main mirror have shipped from France to their final destination in Chile.
The M1 mirrors are the product of an international collaboration. At Schott in Mainz a grand total of 949 mirror segment blanks made of our Zerodur glass-ceramic are being produced. From there they travel to a dedicated facility in Poitiers, France for cutting and polishing. The optics experts at Safran reduce the surface irregularities to less than 10nm, less than 1/1000 the width of a human hair.
The M1 segments will then take the 10,000km journey to the Atacama Desert in Chile. There, ESO coats and assembles the mirror blanks in a special high-tech facility. Unable to be physically made in one piece, M1 will consist of 798 individual segments arranged in a large hexagonal pattern, with an additional number being produced to facilitate the recoating of segments.
Installation of the 39m diameter mirror begins in 2027 on Cerro Armazones mountain at an altitude of 3,046m.When the ELT sees its first light in 2028, it will be the world’s largest optical/near-infrared telescope.